Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I, the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village (CT) will present in October and November the exhibit, By Sea By Air By Land: Military Art and Artifacts 100 Years after the Great War. Featuring maritime, aviation, and figurative artwork in painting, drawing, and photography by artists including Robert Andrew Parker, Pamela Berkeley, Robert Cronin, David Fertig and Lazlo Gyorsok, the exhibit also includes items from the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society and from private collections. A reception with refreshments will take place at the Library on Saturday, October 20 from 4 to 6PM. The exhibit will remain on display through Saturday, November 24. David M. Hunt Library, 63 Main Street, Falls Village, CT, 06031. For more information call the Library at 860-824-7424 or visit huntlibrary.org. Hours: Tues 10-5, Thurs 10-5, Fri 3-7, Sat 10-1, Sun 11-1.
Not limited to the WWI era, the exhibit encompasses military culture, history and iconography from many countries and over several centuries from Pamela Berkeley’s portrait of the mythic knight Parsifal to an installation of Robert Andrew Parker’s wooden airplane models and a US Cavalry uniform that saw service in the “Punitive Expedition” to capture Poncho Villa during the Mexican Revolution and in three major campaigns in WWI France. A maritime painting by Norman Wilkinson, the British artist who invented the technique of dazzle camouflage that helped improve the safety of ships against attack in WWI, is also featured.
The painter Dave Fertig is known for his focus on the age of Napoleon and Admiral Nelson through the lens of the New York School, while Lazlo Gyorsok’s photography captures historical reenactors’ enthusiasm for the American Revolution and the Civil War. Ken Musselman’s painting, Mighty Mo, depicts sailors readying a 16-inch gun on the USS Missouri, while Robert Cronin shows the tenderness of a lonely couple on the deck of the RMS Lusitania. Paintings by Geoffrey Parker and Mary Jeys show ships in states of distress, and Emily Rutgers Fuller provides a landscape of a watch tower used to spot submarines off the coast of Maine during WWII. A woven rug of a soldier by Hendon will also be in the exhibit, along with works by other artists including Sergei Fedorjaczenko, Lillian Lovitt, and Martijn Spijkers. Also included are items from private collections and the Falls Village-Canaan Historical Society including military uniform, trench art, toy soldiers and French Foreign Legion souvenirs.
Garth Kobal, the curator of the exhibit and one of its artists, was inspired to assemble By Sea By Air By Land through family research into Elzie Dillard Rigdon’s WWI service in the famous “All-American” 82nd Division of the 328th Infantry. Pvt. Rigdon, then 24 years old from Alma, Georgia and the father of Mr. Kobal’s husband, was wounded by shrapnel and gas on October 8, 1918 during the decisive Meuse-Argonne campaign in France that helped bring the Great War to its conclusion. His injuries, earning him a Purple Heart, took place on the same day and about two miles from where Sergeant Alvin York, also in the 82nd Division, famously captured 132 German soldiers.
A family member located Pvt. Rigdon’s embarkation papers, which led to the discovery of a photograph of the Walmer Castle, a dazzle camouflage-painted British mail ship that transported the American Expeditionary Forces from Hoboken to Liverpool. It was this image, Kobal said, “that brought E.D. and the whole conflict to life for me. My husband’s dad—a young green farmer who I never met—sailed to WWI in a painting so-to-speak, experienced incredible hardship and injury, and was a participant in this brutal and devastating world-changing event. I immediately sent the photo of the Walmer Castle to Robert Andrew Parker in Cornwall (CT) and he jumped on it, painting a pair of watercolors that are the starting point of this exhibit. Parker was integral to making the exhibit what it is as many of the artifacts featured in the exhibit are from his private collection. Add to that his wooden airplane models, paintings, and etchings and you have an exhibit largely built around Parker’s work, one of our greatest living artists with a truly historical and twentieth-century perspective.”